Firmly Planted: Plant Street Market
Nearly two years old, Plant Street Market remains a foodie destination, with reliable mainstays and some tasty new entries for pizza and sushi lovers.
When I first wrote about Plant Street Market in September of 2015, the food hub anchoring the end of Winter Garden’s main street had been open just four months, and I was already in love. Approaching its second anniversary, the Market is not only thriving but evolving.
Axum Coffee still roasts and grinds beans on-site, chocolatier David Ramirez still creates artistic gems out of chocolate, and there’s still an oxygen bar if all the choices make you feel light headed.
Ample indoor seating and umbrella-shaded tables on the brick patio make for pleasant dining, whether the food is from the chef-driven Five Thymes Five (enormous servings of fish and chips and an impressive blue cheese burger with grass-fed beef from neighbor butchery The Local, which makes fresh sandwiches and salads of its own), or a German pastry from Euro Bake World.
The Press’d Juice Bar has expanded its rustic wood space to include smoothies, cold-pressed juices and vegetarian snacks like a raw grain breakfast bowl, wraps and gluten-free, vegan nachos.
And of course, the anchor of Plant Street Market remains Crooked Can Brewing, its stainless steel tanks producing as many as eight on-tap creations, from the citrusy High Stepper IPA to the malt- and hops-forward McStagger Imperial.
But missing from Plant Street’s original culinary offerings are The Wandering Wonton, which has wandered into pop-up dinners around town, and The Pop Parlour, relocated in downtown Orlando’s North Quarter Market. Artisanal popsicles at Plant Street are now the domain of Brazilian franchise Paleteria Original.
New dining opportunities include Jōdo Sushi, a Brazilian owned and operated eatery with pleasant bar seating and an interesting menu. Standard fare of sashimi and multi-piece rolls are augmented by uramaki rolls (rice on the outside, seaweed within), including salmon, tuna and eel, and can be ordered with avocado instead of cream cheese. The specialty items include sushi dragon, combining seared tuna with shitake mushrooms, then flambéed with Cointreau; Jodomaki Special, stuffed seared salmon with fried shrimp; and the lovely tunira of tuna slices on a bed of panko crumbs and a citrus-scallion dressing.
A few steps away, the aroma of fresh dough and sizzling cheese leads you to another new eatery, Michael’s Ali Coal Fired Pizza, owned by Michael Scorsone and his wife, Ali McBride Wright. Scorsone, a third-generation pizza maker, has owned the Winter Garden Pizza Company, what he refers to as a “full service, sit-down, family New York-style pizza place,” for 15 years; Michael’s Ali is “pizza for big people,” he says.
The flour and tomatoes are from Italy, and the blend of mozzarella and provolone provides a slightly tangy, elastic cheese topping. Vegetables are roasted daily in the coal-fired oven, a piece of equipment that takes some finesse to operate. To risk debate and disagreement, I will state without hesitation that what comes from Scorsone’s oven is the epitome of New York City pizza, and this Bronx boy is very happy indeed.
Plant Street Market
The Market’s synergistic nature benefits the pizza business. Meats, from New York strip steak to handmade sausage, come from The Local Butcher and Market a few steps away. Euro Bake World’s proprietor, Denny Gruendner, makes bread for Michael’s sandwiches. Iced tea comes from AntiquiTEAs down the aisle, and pairings with the plethora of Crooked Can brews are suggested.
Across the walkway is MAC’d Out, the smaller cousin of Michael’s Ali, serving fresh pasta with five-cheese sauce for cooked-to-order mac ’n cheese available with meat and vegetable flourishes.
Plant Street Market has become an inspiration for the boom in local breweries and new food halls, and I look forward to seeing what happens next.
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Be sure to check out Dining Critic Joseph Hayes’ takes on all things culinary at our new dining blog, “Savor Orlando,’’ at orlandomagazine.com/savororlando. Every week, Joseph shares news, views, who’s in, who’s out, openings and closings, who’s transforming the Orlando dining scene, and much more. Also, sign up for our dining newsletter at the Savor site.